Provide Spaces of Healing for 30 Women in Mexico

by Women's Voices Now Inc.
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico
Provide Spaces of Healing for 30  Women in Mexico

                        THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Three workshops were organized during the period July 1-11 by Masa Hilcisin, and Sonia Mackwani (Founder-Director of the organization Touching Lives) . The following methods have been used during the process: grounding exercises, meditations, exercises used to enhance connection among participants and support creation of safe space, writing, group sharing, individual sharing, creative work with art supplies, individual sharing about the creative process, Reiki, group healing meditations.  

      1) Workshop 1 at Cultural Center Border

The first workshop took place during July 3-5 in premises of the Cultural Center Border, an independent cultural space addressing current social issues through public debates, lectures, exhibitions, and workshops.

A total of 10 women participated during the whole workshop, which covered all stages of the process as planned. They focused mostly on the following themes during the workshop: grief, body, violence, mental health, personal vs. public space as well as safety. Participants expressed themselves in the form of art installations, a performance, videos, collages, written pieces and embroidery. 

The following feedback has been provided by the participants of this first workshop:

“It had been a long time since I felt so supported. I thank the two facilitators for creating the safety that is required to share so delicate and deep topics. Listening to my partners really touched my heart and stimulated my sensitivity.”
Elizabeth, 21 years old.

I felt supported and understood during the process. A path that I resisted to explore is now open for me. Now I know I can do it myself and also with the spiritual support of great women.
Angélica 48 years old

I found this to be one of the most outstanding experiences I’ve had as a workshop. Without knowing it, you have walked us to access areas which are not easy to deal with and facilitate space for us to confront those not so easy parts and transform our relationship to them. I can see through preparation one has to have to make it so simple and even sophisticated. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.
Laurinda, 39

(Translation provided by Viviana Muñoz Krauss)

      2) Workshop 2 at Reclusorio Preventivo Varonil Norte

The second workshop was conducted on July 10 in adult prison in north part of Mexico City. Reclusorio Preventivo Varonil Norte is one of the biggest adult prisons in Mexico City with more than 8000 prisoners. Facilitators of the workshop worked actively with members and activists from the Collective La Lleca who have extensive experience in working in jail settings and with this specific prison. 

Facilitators Masa Hilcisin and Sonia Mackwani used storytelling, creative process, and individual sessions in order to facilitate the process. A total of 35 participants joined the workshop. Some of the participants only wanted to talk and share their personal stories orally while others created small paintings and collages. Facilitators guided the session based on each participant’s individual wishes and needs. The main themes explored were loneliness, longing, disconnection, personal space, society, family, religion, grief. Due to safety reasons, facilitators were not allowed to take a camera or phone into the prison.

Here are some reactions from the workshops (the quotes will remain anonymous as we have to protect their privacy

“I liked the exercise during which we hold each other’s hands. I felt relaxed. I also liked the exercise about our story, because it’s not easy to talk here in prison. It brought me relief.”

“I’m learning how to have inner peace. I have meditated about good and bad things I have done. I’m aware that while in prison I can be free in spirit, finding inner peace.”

“I really enjoyed this workshop, because you helped us manage our emotions.”

(Translation provided by Fernando Fuentes)

      3) Workshop 3 at Voces en Tinta

The third and the last workshop took place on July 11 at Voces en Tinta, a cultural space open to LGBTQI+ people where conferences, book readings and other community events are often organized. 

A total of 7 activists women participated in the workshop. Originally planned to last three days, this workshop had to be shortened to one day only due to the participants’ working schedules.This was challenging for the facilitators, but they managed to go over the entire curriculum. Participants produced paintings, collages and performances around the topics of body, health, sexuality and politics.

The following feedback has been provided by the participants:

“Thank you for opening this trusting and safe space.”
Mara 21 years old

“Thank you for what we all shared. More time would have been nicer; however, it was just enough to reach our goal. I learned so much from the others, including myself. I found another part of me.”
Saraí 32 years old

“You helped me build an important place for love. That is my safe space: to feel wrapped in this love. Thank you.”
Magaly 30 years old

(Translation provided by Viviana Muñoz Krauss)

The following day, the facilitators and representatives from La LLeca met to review the collaboration and co-leading of the workshops. All agreed that it would have been beneficial for participants to have more time. La Lleca agreed to keep in touch with participants to provide them any support they might need.

During the last days of stay in Mexico City, facilitators Masa Hilcisin and Sonia Mackwani met with representative of Global Giving platform, Alejandra Avila. They provided detailed information about each of the workshops along with visual materials. Feedback was very positive during the meeting. It has been agreed that they will remain in touch for future professional collaboration.

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The workshop series for Mexico City is in its planning and development phase. Since the last reporting period, there was a major change. One of the workshop’s facilitators, Beth Lazroe, had to cancel her trip to Mexico due to health issues. Another colleague, who is experienced in therapeutic work, will replace Lazroe. Her name is Sonia Mackwani.

Below is a short biography of Mackwani:

Sonia Mackwani is an award-winning Psychologist Healer and an Intuitive Channel. With a Masters in Clinical Psychology and Hypnotherapy, she is also an author, having written for children and adults; both fiction and non-fiction. At the young age of 21, she founded a non-profit organization called Touching Lives offering learning and healing to the children and communities of the slums in Mumbai, India. Touching Lives is now in its 15th year of operation.

During the Report period January - April 2019, the following activities took place:

  • Conference call. The main facilitator of the workshop, Dr. Masa Hilcisin met with the representatives of organization LaLleca in order to discuss further plans about the workshops
  • Timeframe for all workshops. The following timeframe has been agreed with the representatives of LaLleca:

The first workshop will take place July 4-6, in collaboration with the Cultural Center for 10 female participants. Participants will be students and immigrants.

The second workshop will take place on July 10, for 20-30 participants for women in prison. This workshop will take only one day because access to the prison is not possible for a longer period of time. It will be designed and structured accordingly.

The third workshop will take place July 11-13, for 8-10 female activists.

  • Skype meeting. Hilcisin met with the other facilitator, Sonia Mackwani. Mackwani is based in Bombay, she will arrive to Prague at the end of May. Mackwani will be working during the month of June with Hilcisin in preparation for the workshops in Mexico City. They will together run workshops for women and girls within WomenArts Festival,Prague, from June 14-16.
  • Tools, techniques, and methods which will be used and applied during the workshops, include: storytelling, writing, group sharing, identification of individual themes, individual sessions, guidance, and creative process, which will involve use of visual tools such as video, or collage, or photography, in order to translate the personal story into visual language. Further methods might be added after work meetings of facilitators during the month of June.

Timeline for the next three-month period (April - May 2019):

  • May: conference call with representatives of LaLleca organization in order to discuss the final details of the workshops (final structure and confirmation of the timeline)
  • June: Facilitators’ series of work meetings in Prague
  • June: Facilitators will deliver a workshop for women and girls in Prague (as an additional preparation for the workshops in Mexico City).
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“Visual Storytelling Workshop: Use of Visual Language in Storytelling for Personal Transformation” is part of a comprehensive approach to provide safe spaces for women and girls to share their personal stories and to translate these stories into visual language. The workshops aim to support creative and healing processes, empower women and girls to work within their personal space, and provide technical skills in visual storytelling (work with collage, photography, camera, and video editing).

The workshop series for Mexico City is in its planning phase. This series will be organized with the Mexico City-based organization La Lleca. La Lleca’s approach focuses on addressing the needs of the population they work with. According to research conducted by La Lleca, since 2006 violence against women has worsened in Mexico and, in the last year, university students have been repeatedly targeted. In the vast majority of cases, university authorities have not responded to the students’ claims. As a result, many female students struggle with the consequences of violence such as addiction, which leads to legal issues.

In November 2018, the workshops’ facilitators, Masa Hilcisin and Beth Lazroe, met in Prague with representatives of La Lleca to discuss the details of the workshops for Mexico.The following points were addressed during the meeting:

  • Profile of participants for the workshops. The facilitators will be working with three different groups: women in an all-female prison, women activists, and female students who come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds.
  • Tools, techniques and methods which will be used and applied during the workshop: workshop structure, group and individual sessions to ensure that participants feel safe sharing personal stories, use of film and video techniques).
  • Sensitivity and security issues around conducting the workshop in all-female prison: What will we be allowed to do? Photographing the workshop or participants will not be allowed, but we might be able to document the art produced by the participants.
  • Permission to access all-female prison will be managed by La Lleca
  • Accommodation Details: both facilitators will be housed in the private homes of La Lleca members.

Timeline for the next three-month period (Feb.-May 2019):

  • February: Facilitators’ meeting in Prague
  • February - March: Finalization of the workshops’ structure  with a detailed day-by-day schedule
  • March: Skype meeting with representatives of La Lleca to discuss the final version of workshops’ structure
  • April: Facilitators book their plane tickets (Prague – Mexico City)
  • April - late May: La Lleca recruits the workshops’ participants.

In addition to the preparation of Visual Storytelling Workshops in Mexico, a series of workshops were held in Georgia and Czech Republic during the reporting period (November 2018 - January 2019). In Georgia, the workshops took place on November 20th-30th, 2018 in Batumi and Khulo. They served 30 women and girls from different parts of the country, and were organized in collaboration with the Batumi Education Development and Employment Center (BEDEC) and the Khulo Women’s Room. Please see the pictures of this workshop series below.

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Organization Information

Women's Voices Now Inc.

Location: Rolling Hills Estates, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WomensVoicesNow
Project Leader:
Heidi Basch-Harod
Rolling Hills Estates, CA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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